Updated: Dec 21, 2021
How do you push yourself to write? How do you ensure that you write every day? How do you work to obtain that goal that you set yourself?
Maybe you don't push yourself. Maybe you don't write every day. Maybe you don't even have a goal in your mind, a set place of where you want to be in however long. That's ok. But for me, when I don't have a goal, a plan, and a motivation to work towards those little (and big) achievements, that is exactly when I don't. That's when I sit around all day doing nothing. That's when I leave my writing projects sitting in the dust for weeks, months, and years.
So how do I (and how can you) create those goals to push towards so that projects don't get left unfinished? How do I set attainable deadlines for my project and then reach them even with no one to egg me on? How do I accomplish daily, weekly, monthly word counts?
I cannot create a schedule of deadlines, goals, or word counts for you. I cannot motivate you. I cannot push you to write if you cannot push yourself. Ultimately, each of these things is individual to each person and only works right if you create them for yourself and are dedicated to following them.
For me, I struggled to push myself to do anything with my book once the first draft was done. I had finished NaNoWriMo and won (gotten over 50,000 words). But where did I go from here? Once I started editing, I began to realize quickly that the plot was not what it needed to be. There was something off with it. The plot of the present timeline simply did not fit with where I was taking the rest of the novel—the rest of the series even. I had to do a rewrite and I was not motivated enough to stick with it. The book got left as-is for over a year.
Finally, I came back to writing, I published a poetry book. I took a look at my life and I said "something's missing." That something was my writing. But in order to actually finish the book and get it to where it needed to be to get a literary agent and be published, I needed goals I would stick with. I needed plans for where I wanted to be with it. I needed schedules. I needed daily word counts. I needed a lot more than I had right then.
I went back to NaNoWriMo (seriously, I love that place) and I started a new goal on the site underneath my project The Criminal with the deadline of finishing 80,000 words (really the minimum for a novel) being the end of October (so that I could start the next novel in NaNoWriMo 2021). I set myself a goal of writing every day and rewarded myself when I did.
As I started to write more and more, I changed that goal, I moved it forward. Instead of finishing by November, it became finishing editing by November. And then, it became finishing by June so that I could participate in June #pitmad. Each time I was working hard to finish by that deadline and found that I felt I could work harder. I recognized something in myself. I realized that I was not living up to my full potential. I wanted that end reward (an agent, a publisher, and a published book) and I knew I could work harder to get it.
I shifted and changed my goals, recognizing when to push. I aimed for a chapter a day and in the final push (editing 20 past timeline chapters in 2 weeks), edited even more than a chapter a day. I reached for the stars and worked as hard as I could to finish a manuscript for draft 2.
And then I flipped tactics: time to edit.
But I also had to realize when it was time to push and when it was time to pull back. In that final week of editing the past timeline, my dog had some struggles and had to have an emergency spay surgery. I was stressed and mothering my dog like crazy and I had to take care of her and of myself first and of my writing second. When I began to edit, it was while recovering from that week and I had to learn what was going to work for me. My original plans for the editing process were tossed out the window and while the deadline stayed intact, the method to get to the deadline and even the plans for what to accomplish by then changed.
I am a true believer in deadlines, goals, and schedules. Without these, often, we do not achieve our dreams because we do not reach for them. So here is my challenge for you today: set some goals. set some deadlines. set yourself a schedule. Make it attainable so that when you reach it, you can set new goals, new deadlines, new schedules. But don't just sit on your bottom letting your dreams pass you by anymore. Act. Reach. Grab for your dreams. You're almost there. I can see it.